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proper load for BP revolvers?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Clark2, Oct 20, 2006.

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  1. Clark2

    Clark2 Member

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    Hi all-

    I have a question that seems extremely basic, but despite hours reading back posts / other sites I have yet to find a satisfactory answer to. The question is what is the proper amount of BP to use? I own a new army reproduction (the cheapo 44's from Cabelas). No brass on the firearm except around the trigger (i.e., not structural). I've read all manner of load types, such as:

    (1) "no more than 30 grains of FFFg." Note that this load + ball does not even come close to filling the chamber.

    (2) "fill the chamber full, and squash the ball down onto it." I expect this would be far greater than 30 grains, perhaps close to 100, but not really sure [never tried it].

    (3) "ensure that after the ball is loaded, it sits ~ 1mm below the surface of the cylinder." I don't know how many grains this would be, but I expect it would be near 80-90 [again, never tried it].

    So given this, what is the proper load? Personally, I shoot it in the 20-30 grain range [depending upon on the mood], however, it's never sat well with me. In particular, I'm tempted to load it up to (3) above. However, before I "go there", I thought I'd ask what people's thoughts were on this?

    thanks,

    -Clark
     
  2. pohill

    pohill Member

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    30 grs of black powder FFFG is plenty for a .44 caliber. You won't gain anything going too much higher than 30 grs. I've experimented with putting Cream of Wheat or cornmeal over the powder to raise the ball, but gave that extra step up after seeing no advantage. I've put Crisco and/or Bore Butter over the ball, lube pills over and under the balls; I like a lube pill made of beeswax and paraffin over the ball. Just make sure there's no dead air space between the powder and the ball.
     
  3. ribbonstone

    ribbonstone Member

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    30gr. of FFg and a fully seated round ball (one below level) would be a fair load. That's a bit more than the bare minimum but less than the maximum the chamber will hold.

    That chamber probably wouldn't hold much more than 45-50gr. WITH NO BALL AT ALL. With a ball, fair compression of powder, and the ball seated a bit below flush, something close to 40gr. would be a max-max. Anything less than 20-24gr. and the rammer won't seat the ball deep enough to correctly compress the powder. So call it 26gr. to 33gr. as an easy to load standard load (and 30gr. is pretty well in the middle of that range).
     
  4. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    I doubt you will ever get 80-90 grains of BP in a Remington .44. As Pohill said 30 grains is a good load. I suspect it might top off at 35 grains. If you can't seat the ball below the front edge of the cylinder it's absolutly too full.
    You won't be able to crush the powder down a lot. Blackpowder works well when it's compacted a little, and also keep in mind as Pohill said, there should be NO AIR between the powder and the ball.
    Did you buy the gun new? It should have instructions. I've purchased Cabela's and they even print their own instructions for it, and as well include a manufacturers' version (usually Pietta.) There's a lot of good info there and you should read them; they'll tell you the basic loads.
    You generally can't overload the revolvers, unless you overfill it like I said earlier and then the cylinder will jam as it rotates. However, if you underload it then you acquire a problem with airspaces. THAT shouldn't happen.
     
  5. Plink

    Plink Member

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    The best load for your gun is whatever is most accurate in it. That's never the max load. My 1858 .44's get 22-25 grains 3F with a wad over the powder. Also, you don't benefit much from really heavy loads in a short handgun barrel either. The barrel can only burn so much. The rest just burns outside the barrel where it contributes nothing to velocity, nor accuracy. It just causes more fouling.
     
  6. Clark2

    Clark2 Member

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    Thanks all for the replies thus far. By the way, for the record, yes, I read the Cabelas documentation closely. My question is more "academic" than practical. I'm trying to reconcile statements (that exist even in the manufactures documentation) about loading enough BP such that the ball rests just below the surface of the chamber, and load no more than 30-35gr. When I load 30gr of powder into the chamber, the ball rests perhaps 1cm below the surface, not 1mm.

    Note also, that if you read threads on this board (such as the "use BP as a self defense gun?"), you'll see people mention loading the chambers completely full of BP and then smashing the ball onto that. This is going to be much more than 35gr of BP, and before I attempted it (even if it's pointless, as it wont add to the velocity of the lead), I thought I'd query everyones thoughts on the matter.

    Oh, and personally, I find my 5 1/2" barrel BP pistol is most accurate with an even lower load (about 20gr). I have another pistol with a 7 1/2" barrel and that one shoots straighter with a higher load (30). This generally matches up with what you all have been saying about load enough BP such that weapon is accurate, and no more.

    thanks for your replies,

    -C
     
  7. mec

    mec Member

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    Most commercial flasks for the .44s have spouts that throw 28 grains of Goex fffg. this probably comes to 30 grains of swiss fffg as it is denser. Its a good, usable charge with black powder or pyrodex and generally very accurate. It will allow use of an over powder wad if you want to use one.
     
  8. gmatov

    gmatov member

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    The rest just burns outside the barrel where it contributes nothing to velocity, nor accuracy. It just causes more fouling.

    Plink,

    If it burns outside the barrell how does it increase the fouling?

    35 and even 40 grs will fit into the Rem, and be compressed to clear the ball.35 will shoot flatter, so you won't cry that my front sight is too high, too low, whatever.

    I would like to see anyone here who owns a 22 rifle buy a box of "Standard Speed" 22s, or 22 shorts and go shoot them. They ain't, anyway, gonna hit at the same vertical point with the Hi-vels. Velocity is king, BP OR smokeless.

    Same goes for low powder BP loads, except, with BP, you are STILL pushing the same load, in 44 cal, 142 grs, and a little powder, which counts as ejecta, at say 600 FPS. The ball will shoot high, as the recoil, though less than with a higher powder load, is actually higher in elevation, as the ball is still in the barrell for a longer period of time. The pistol is pointed higher when the ball leaves the barrell.

    40 grs, you touch off, CRACK, the ball is gone before the pistol has recoiled much, the barrell risen to the stars. It ain't nuclear physics.

    Cheers,

    George
     
  9. pohill

    pohill Member

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    Not so sure about that one, George. You're saying that the ignition time of say, 30 grs, is is the same as 40 grs? It seems reasonable that 30 grs total or the FIRST 30 grs of 40 grs total would burn at the same speed, which means that if there were 10 more grains to go after the initial 30 grs in a total of 40, the barrel would be in the same elevation, with 10 grs more ignition to follow to raise it even more.
     
  10. drdirk

    drdirk Member

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    If you are a new shooter, your time should be spend to having FUN at first and worrying about the best load for accuracy later. I would start with "a sprout full" of powder. As somebody pointed out, that is about 26 gr. In my opinon a very good starting load. So, use that load and experiement more with your loading procedure, wad, no wad, crisco, borebutter, round ball sizes, conicals etc. Eventually you will get good at it and THEN you can change the load. Remember, in order to get the most accuracy, you have to have to do everything exactly the same way. Most important, develop a good loading procedure that works for you and in your climate. For example, using borebutter in the Texas summer is pretty much IMPOSSIBLE! Way too hot, the stuff just runs all over the place! So, go out there, have a cup of coffee with you and have FUN!
     
  11. Plink

    Plink Member

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    George, it all lights inside the barrel, and most burns there too. But the barrel can only efficiently burn so much before the ball is clear. The rest finishes burning outside the barrel and hasn't really contributed much to the shot besides increased fouling.

    Heavier loads do produce more velocity until they get to the point where it's blowing a lot of unburned powder out, but they're usually not nearly as accurate. If I was using the gun for self defense, I'd be using maximum or nearly maximum loads, but for target shooting and hunting, the most accurate load would be my choice, hence the lighter loads.
     
  12. gmatov

    gmatov member

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    Pohill,

    The pistol starts to recoil when the ball starts to move. Simple law of physics, action/reaction.

    Yes, I guess I am saying the ignition time is almost exactly the same for both weights, of the same powder.

    To go to Mec's book, his table on the New Army shows 28 grs of Swiss 3f at 959 fps, 35 grs at 1089 fps.

    If you want to say only half the powder burns inside the chamber and barrell, you still have more powder burning with the heavier load, so you have higher velocity, AND, yes, the load IS burning at about the same speed. The ball exits the barrell at near 15% faster for the larger load. If it leaves the barrell faster, the barrell would have risen less, the ball would be traveling to the target from a lower angle of exit, as well as flying faster and, hence, with a flatter trajectory.

    http://thunder-ridge-muzzleloading.com/Bill Knight.htm

    Excellent article by Bill Knight.

    Here's a snippet about diminishing returns, where you up the charge to the point that the extra powder does not increase the velocity equally to the increase in powder charge ( As to Plink's claim that you would get more fouling with the higher charge.)

    "Using the same TVM test rifle another round of testing was set up. The 2000 production Elephant showed a point of diminishing returns at 60 grains in the .45 caliber. That means that when the charge is increased over 60 grains the gain in velocity is less than with the charge increases below 60 grains. The testing was done with an adjustable powder measure that throws 100 grains weight of water at the 100 setting. So the setting will indicate grains charged thought that would not be the exact weight of powder charged. The exact weight was taken from a graph prepared by graphing the setting verus actual weight of powder. The actual weight charged then being used in the calculations.

    Measure Recovered
    setting bore fouling

    40 2.5% of the original charge weight as recovered bore fouling.
    50 2.6% of the original charge weight as recovered bore fouling.
    60 2.4% of the original charge weight as recovered bore fouling.
    70 2.3% of the original charge weight as recovered bore fouling.
    80 2.3% of the original charge weight as recovered bore fouling.
    90 2.5% of the original charge weight as recovered bore fouling.
    With 2.43% being the average. (Compared to 2.5% on another day.)

    The data shows that above 60 grains (the point of diminishing returns) there was no marked increase in bore fouling. At least not by weight. But what then did the old information indicate or refer to?"

    I don't know, would you agree that you get no more fouling with a larger charge than with a smaller charge? After all, the larger charge has greater velocity of the ball AND the propelling gases.

    Read the rest of the link and you will see that the gases leave the barrell so quickly that a vaccuum is formed that immediately sucks air, and moisture back into the barrell.

    Plink,

    Actually, "overbore" applies to smokeless more than to BP. BP burns almost instantaneously, deflagrates, is actually considered an explosive. A fast burning smokeless powder is hazardous. You HAVE to stay near published max. A slow burning smokeless, you can go "overbore", stay within the pressure limits and spew unburnt powder out the muzzle.

    BP, you ain't gonna do that. It's all gonna burn, detonate. Back to the chart above, 50% higher charge, the same amount of bore fouling as the original charge, nay, 125% of the original 40 gr charge.

    It's all academic. Still, the OP could try as high as 40 grs of powder, if he would like to. It is generally regarded as a safe load in the new BP Rems.

    If you can ram it to clear the forcing cone, it is shootable. Although it is true that a gentler load MAY be more accurate, depending on your OWN pistol.

    Cheers,

    George
     
  13. pohill

    pohill Member

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    "The pistol starts to recoil when the ball starts to move. Simple law of physics, action/reaction."

    Considering action/reaction, why would a barrel rise and not just go straight back in the opposite direction of the exiting bullet/ball, in proportion to the amount of the charge? I'm thinking of the cannons on old sailing ships - didn't they jump backwards when fired?
     
  14. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    Handgun barrels rise because the axis of the barrel is above the hand. The cannons on those old ships were on wheels and basically the only way the recoil force could take them would be back. I believe they usually chocked the wheels to prevent this, though, but I may be wrong.
     
  15. gmatov

    gmatov member

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    Tommygun is partially correct, the pistol barrell is above the center line of the pistol, so it WILL kick upward.

    As to the cannon on ships, yes, they also kicked upwards, they were also tied to the gunnels, whatever you call the side of the ship, by block and tackle. If the ropes broke, the guns would recoil and flip over backwards, crushing the crew.
    The only firearms I can recall seeing with a straight axis of the bore to the stock is the "handgonne" from Ulricht Breschler's site. A barrell socketed to a lance, straight back thrust.

    IF you tied it to a lance, a staff, and the barrell was above the staff, recoil would be upwards. If you had the barrell below the staff, the recoil would be downwards.

    I would imagine the "squeeze pistol" and "palm pistols" also kicked straight back.

    Cheers,

    George
     
  16. Plink

    Plink Member

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    Just as 90 grains is more than twice the weight of 40 grains, 2.5% of the original charge weight of 90 grains is more than twice as much as 2.5% of the original charge weight of 40 grains. This is about the same as my results also. My comments come from my own personal observations with muzzleloading rifles and pistols, along with a few revolvers, rather than anybody's reports or charts, so YMMV.

    Just in my own non scientific shooting, I've found that by doubling charge weight, you get about half as many shots before cleaning. In handguns, shooting across a chrono shows that increasing charge weight 50%, say from 30 grains to 45, the increase in velocity is in the neighborhood of 10% or so, depending on gun, barrel length, projectile, etc. At the same time, you get about 1/3 less shots before needing to clean.

    Again, this all depends on too many variables to count and only represents my own results. For more feedback on this, I suggest exploring some of the larger muzzleloading forums where such data is compared by many members. Your own results are the best indicator though.

    Deflagrate: to burn rapidly with intense heat and sparks being given off.

    Detonate: to explode with sudden violence.

    Black powder does indeed deflagrate. It burns at approximately the same speed in open air as it does in the barrel. Pressure doesn't have the same effect on it that it does on smokeless powder. Black powder is considered an explosive because it does burn so fast in open air. It doesn't need compression or a shock wave for it to burn fast enough to cause damage by overpressure. It doesn't detonate in open air unless extremely large amounts are involved. Even some of the largest black powder plant "explosions" weren't true detonations, rather than a large amount of powder deflagerating.

    Smokeless powder burns much slower in open air, and is considered "flammable", as it's not likely to do anything but burn quickly if ignited. Under pressure inside a cartridge it burns faster and generates higher pressures. Neither "detonate" under proper operating conditions.

    If smokeless powder is subjected to an overpressure situation in a cartridge, it can possibly detonate. When it does, destruction of the gun and possibly injury to the shooter is the result. Oddly enough, faster powders, such as used in handgun cartridges, have a detonation pressure far above what could normally be achieved, even with a stout overload. When a handgun blows because of an overcharge, it's usually caused by a simple overpressure condition in excess of the gun's design limits, rather than a detonation.

    The slower powder of a magnum rifle, has a much lower threshhold of detonation though. Considering magnum rifle rounds operate at much higher pressures than handgun rounds, they operate closer to the detonation threshold. An overcharge of only a few grains is sometimes enough to get into those dangerous pressure areas. It's not uncommon to have a magnum load operating in the 60,000 PSI range on powder that has a detonation pressure of 70,000 PSI.

    Actually, a simple test that has been used for a very long time is to shoot over snow, or a sheet. When you start exceeding the ability of the barrel to burn all the black powder, you start finding it on the snow/sheet. The more you exceed it, the more unburned powder you find. I don't understand why it doesn't light in the firestorm of the bore, but you can collect it and light it and it will ignite, so it's not fouling.

    If you can fit the powder into the chambers on a revolver, you can shoot it. It's hard, if not impossible, to overload modern repro revolvers and perhaps even originals. The Big Iron Barrels folks offer chamber deepening to increase the space for more powder. Each gun has it's own preference for loads. My own revolvers don't like charges near maximum, but all of my rifles have two sweet spots. A very accurate spot at about half maximum, and another, somewhat less accurate spot at about 80% or so. Makes for nice versatility. An accurate target load, and a suitable hunting load.
     
  17. mec

    mec Member

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    The really noticeable changes in point of impact come when you switch between bullets and ball. The bullets weigh more and generally hit several inches higher on target even though they are usually going slower. Balls of the same weight hit fairly close to the same point of impact across a range of velocities. One writer summed it up by saying that you wouldn't notice any increase in elevation using the same bullet until you increased velocity by about 50 fps. even then, the difference isn't great. I usually find that switching from goex fffg to pyrodex p doesn't really alter the point of impact even though the pyrodex loads are usually about 100 fps faster.
     
  18. pohill

    pohill Member

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    I might be getting into a very technical area, but ballistics intrigues me. Mec, does the extra weight of the bullet compared to the roundball cause more recoil with the same powder charge? Why else would they hit higher? (the implication being that the barrel rises more). Or am I way off?
     
  19. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    The heavier bullets, burning the same powder charge as the lighter balls, would create more pressure (but not necessarily more velocity) since they wouldn't initially move as easily from their resting place, thus more felt recoil.
    However, I wouldn't think that the additional recoil is the only reason for the higher impact on the target. Theoretically IMO, if the gun was put in a machine rest and fired, the trajectory would still be [slightly] higher with additional powder and the conical. Although in reality, the recoil might also be a contributing factor. An increased powder charge may cause the conical (with a longer bearing surface) to spin that much faster and increase it's RPM's traveling through the rifling and cause the trajectory to rise without recoil [muzzle rise] being an issue.
    Another contributing factor may be the "head spacing" of the projectile in the cylinder, the distance it must jump to engage the rifling. I personally believe that how close a fired bullet is located to the rifling when it begins its journey down the barrel can sometimes affect whether identical bullets will impact slightly higher or lower on a target at a given distance, or will shoot into a more or less accurate group.
     
  20. Low Key

    Low Key Member

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    Here’s a physics fact that will screw with your mind. :D Vertical velocity as induced by acceleration due to gravity is entirely independent of horizontal velocity. Now to explain that.

    Lets say that you fired a 140 grain round ball from a revolver at, lets be ridiculous and say 3000fps, exactly horizontal, and at the exact same moment that the ball left the barrel…you drop a 140 grain round ball from the exact same height. Which one hits the ground first? Both! They both start with 0 vertical velocity and gravity pulls both downward at the same rate. How fast either is moving in the horizontal plane doesn’t matter at all. Think on that awhile…:confused:

    :D
     
  21. mec

    mec Member

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    "Mec, does the extra weight of the bullet compared to the roundball cause more recoil with the...."

    I've heard it explained as longer barrel dwell time for the heavier/slower bullets making the bullet exit higher in the recoil curve. I really don't know for sure. I have seen it in action though. A 180 grain 30-06 will hit a couple of inches higher than a 150 grain at 100 yards respective velocities being 2700+/ 2900+.

    On the other hand, a couple of remington load in a Smith 27 eight shot hit to the same poi with identical sight(scope) settings at 25 yards. These were a 158 grain load at mid 1300s and a 125 grain load at 1500. I seem to remember my ballistics calculator gave them the same recoil impulse and velocity. Not sure about that but I do know the recoil felt the same from both loads.
     
  22. pohill

    pohill Member

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    That's a good one, Low Key, and once I wrapped my mind around it, it makes sense. Gravity doesn't give a crap about how fast you're going. Yo goin' down, sucker.

    MEC: so the recoil curve for a given charge is the same no matter what ball/bullet size you use...interesting.
     
  23. Low Key

    Low Key Member

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    The way I understand it, a gun doesn't actually start its recoil until the bullet actually leaves the barrel, :confused:. It has to do with inertia, the bullet has a certain amount of inertia that has to be overcome to get it moving down the barrel. The inertia of the bullet is inconsequential compared to the inertia of the gun itself. What are the hot expanding gasses of the burning powder pushing against?

    Only the bullet until it leaves the barrel, then the hot gasses release all that built up pressure out the muzzle like a jet engine and you get the recoil. Heavier bullets recoil more because it takes them a fraction of a second longer to exit the barrel and that allows the internal pressure to build to a higher level so that you get a stronger "jet" as the bullet passes the muzzle.

    confused yet???

    :)
     
  24. Steve499

    Steve499 Member

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    So, how many angels are line-dancing around on the head of this pin, anyhow? I can't see well enough to say for sure. All I know is if I'm shooting a fixed sight handgun and it shoots low, a heavier bullet ALWAYS hits higher at pistol ranges for me with no sight modifications. I had higher impacts from 148 grain target wadcutters than 125 grain .357 silvertips from the same pistol. I don't know for sure but the .357 loads were not too far from being twice the velocity of the wadcutters and still impacted lower. Maybe that's not the norm but it has held true for me in every case I've tried. But then, of course, there's that shifting of the earth's magnetic field which happens frequently when I'm shooting. Makes me miss!

    Steve
     
  25. mec

    mec Member

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    not to mention the rifling twist struggle with or against the coriolis effect depending on which hemisphere you are in.
     
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